I am grateful to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore for the wonderful preparation of this summit. My appreciation also goes to His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, the country coordinator for ASEAN-Korea dialogue relations.
Competition among the major powers has intensified, and waves of protectionism are rising higher. Despite this difficult situation, ASEAN has demonstrated remarkable progress with an average economic growth rate of five percent as member states help one another. I pay tribute to the solidarity and cooperation of ASEAN.
I believe in the boundless potential and united strength of ASEAN. I also have a firm vision of creating a people-centered community of peace and prosperity together with ASEAN. The New Southern Policy announced in the 19th Summit was the expression of Korea’s strong determination to prosper together with ASEAN.
Over the past year, I have met with ASEAN leaders in person to share our visions and have made efforts to cement the foundation for our cooperation. I am planning to meet all the leaders of ASEAN by next year, thereby further deepening our mutual trust.
As part of the efforts to flesh out our visions, the Presidential Committee on New Southern Policy was founded. A comprehensive blueprint incorporating strategies and tasks was formulated. The number of personnel assigned to Korea's diplomatic missions in the ASEAN member countries has greatly increased.
Recently, our efforts are coming to fruition. Trade between Korea and ASEAN up to September this year increased six percent year on year to reach US$120 billion. The number of people travelling back and forth between Korea and ASEAN also increased by 17 percent to surpass 8 million, which is truly pleasant and welcome news.
I will accelerate the pace more. Mutually beneficial and forward-looking exchanges and cooperation will be expanded. Korea will work more closely together with ASEAN to achieve the goals of increasing bilateral trade to US$200 billion and the number of people travelling back and forth to 15 million by 2020.
Chairman and heads of state and government,
ASEAN members and Korea have similar historical experiences. They have prevailed over colonial era authoritarianism and achieved astounding growth. I feel a special sense of camaraderie with you.
The year 2019 is very meaningful. It marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of Korea-ASEAN ties. It is also a very significant year for Korea. It is the centennial of the March First Independence Movement and the establishment of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea.
I, together with the heads of state and government of ASEAN members, want to launch a new 30 years of Korea-ASEAN relations and another century for the Republic of Korea.
I am inviting ASEAN member heads of state and government to the Republic of Korea next year for the 2019 ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit and the inaugural Korea-Mekong summit. Korea-ASEAN relations will be raised a level higher.
I hope that the combined strength of ASEAN will advance peace and prosperity in Asia.